By George Corrales
When it comes to contentious community issues, the local media often fails to report the story behind the story. That was the case in last week’s controversy in Carlsbad involving a city councilwoman and her call to confront “white supremacists” at a school board meeting.
According to local news media, most people in Carlsbad approved of ninth graders taking a proposed Film Academy Ethnic Studies (FAES) course. What went unreported was that a sizeable contingent of parents did not approve.
With help from the Carlsbad Citizens for Community Oversight (C2o), these parents contacted the media to tell their side of the story, but not a single news outlet followed up.
In the meantime, Carlsbad Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel wrote a letter in Nextdoor telling people that she would be organizing an effort to push back against this group. In the letter, she referred to anti-DEI and ethnic studies people as “white supremacists.”
Having caught wind of this, the school board moved their regularly scheduled meeting to a venue that could accommodate a large crowd and a half-dozen police officers.
Since January, C2o has demonstrated and argued that CRT – Critical Race Theory – is embedded throughout the FAES curriculum. The group also pointed out that the school board promised parents long ago that CRT would not be taught in CUSD schools. The only counterargument Bhat-Patel had was to say that C2o was comprised of white supremacists who were using the issue as a right-wing bogeyman.
On the night of the school board meeting, the school gym at Calaveras was full. According to attendees, most were there in support of the councilwoman’s views. Also in attendance were a half dozen police officers and the local news media.
Interestingly, the councilwoman did not attend the school board meeting. In fact, the letter that originally appeared on Nextdoor disappeared.
At the next city council meeting, three local high school students, outraged by the councilwoman’s letter, called her actions “reckless.” The school board proceedings had been peaceful and productive, they said, but the letter was provocative and could have resulted in terrible things happening. They also pointed out that the substantial police presence was obviously costly.
As for Priya, a source close to the councilwoman said, “Priya said she did not write the letter, a staff member wrote it and she said she did not see it or review it before it went out.” Outside of that, the councilwoman has not spoken publicly about the situation.
Today, C2o is calling for an apology and for the councilwoman to resign.
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